Retaliate or Respond?
38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39 But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; 40 and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well; 41 and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile. Matthew 5:38-41 (NSRV)
As Christians, how do we respond when we are deliberately mistreated? Are we to be negative or positive in our responses? We should always strive to be positive and let God show His love through us. Jesus forgave His persecutors and we are to do the same. Was that forgiveness a show of weakness or was it unbelievable strength? Who was the actual winner at the Cross? If we respond in the same manner as Jesus, it is really a show of our strength and our faith in Jesus Christ. In the times of the early church, being struck on the right cheek with the back of the right hand was something that a superior did to someone of less stature as an insult. That gesture was acceptable, but that was the most he could legally do. So, if someone at that time, turned his left cheek to the offender, the offender would not be able to strike the person in the same way again. If the offender struck him in any other way, it would be an escalation of violence and totally unacceptable in that society. By “turning the other cheek”, the person offended has now taken control of the situation and the offender must either walk away or escalate. So, the expression really means to find a peaceful, loving solution to the mistreatment. We are promised that we will be offended, it is our duty to find a way to lower the level of violence and show the love of Jesus through our actions.